Boston is for shopaholics

Boston, Massachusetts. See PA Feature TRAVEL Boston. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TRAVEL Boston. Photos are for use by the press, for promotional materials, and the web. Images may not be sold and may not be used on materials for sale without the express written permission from FayFoto, Inc. and/or Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Boston, Massachusetts. See PA Feature TRAVEL Boston. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TRAVEL Boston. Photos are for use by the press, for promotional materials, and the web. Images may not be sold and may not be used on materials for sale without the express written permission from FayFoto, Inc. and/or Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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Jet lag can have its perks, and standing on the banks of the Charles River, watching the sunrise over the Boston cityscape as wintry night gave way to crisp early morning made the trans-Atlantic insomnia a little easier to bear.

Hardy joggers and dog walkers were already well into their daily exercise routine around the non-tidal waterway that snakes its way between the north side of the port city and Cambridge, the college town home of Harvard and MIT.

But while the fitness fraternity had eyes firmly on the tree-lined paths provided for their exertions, my unscheduled dawn stroll across the Longfellow Bridge turned out to be the perfect way to soak up one of America’s most historic cities, before venturing into its beating heart.

Tax was the key issue for Bostonians as the bitter dispute between Britain and her American colonies escalated into revolution in 1775, with the War of Independence. More than two centuries on, the city is again raising another matter of taxation with her cousins across the pond, albeit a rather less inflammatory one.

Boston is urging British and Irish shoppers to eschew New York’s Fifth Avenue this winter and head to Massachusetts instead.

And the reason - you won’t be subject to the same rates of sales tax applied in shops in many other US states.

The proprietors of the designer outlets in chic Newbury Street hope this financial incentive is enough to attract bargain hunters, and that perk - along with the promise of a city rich in culture - persuaded me to choose Boston for a winter break.

Dubbed the walking city, it is smaller than many of the US’s major metropolises. Compact, a leisurely walk back from the Charles River into the grand Victorian streets of the Back Bay through into the city centre and on to the harbour on the other side takes less than an hour.

Newbury Street cuts through the Back Bay and its brownstone facades makes it an experience whether you buy anything or not. My hotel was on the nearby Boylston Street - The Mandarin Oriental.

Counting Tom Cruise among its recent clientele, this five-star haven was voted the third best hotel in the US in a recent poll.

While it provided a luxurious central location to stay, its restaurant and bar are also well placed for shoppers looking for refreshment after a day in the Newbury boutiques or the close-by Prudential Centre.

The Mandarin’s spa has a reputation as one of the finest in the state and, with the jetlag still raging, that was where I spent a long afternoon.

Linking the Back Bay and downtown is the picturesque Boston Common, which was a great place to start my second day. Navigating around the fearless geese that roam the 380-year-old park, it felt a bit like Central Park in miniature.

Boston boasts a remarkable 57 different colleges and universities and some of the most prestigious now sit in Cambridge. Like England’s Cambridge and Oxford, Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have become tourist attractions as well as revered seats of learning.